Keeping Nami occupied while I work from home is no easy feat, but it gets manageable with time…that, or I am just getting used to it.
I think one of the hardest things about being a dog mum is staying committed. When I’m feeling tired or lazy, I still need to be responsible for Nami even if it means forcing myself out of the apartment. :D
Although the things Nami and I do together when I work from home may vary depending on the weather, my workload, and my health — these are the things I do to give myself room to get work done from home:
Walks in the morning and lunch
I wake up between 7.30am to 8am in the mornings, which gives me some time to prep, eat some breakfast for myself and give Nami his brekkie. Though some days he barely touches it. Food definitely isn’t the first thing he wants in the morning!
At about 8.40am, I bring him for a short walk in the communal garden at our apartment. That gives him an opportunity to smell around and do his business. I’ve read that letting dogs smell and sniff during their walks is important — it keeps them happy and stimulated:
This 5-minute sniff-fest can be as stimulating and enriching for your dog as the whole of the rest of their walk.All about your dog’s sense of smell
We’re back in before 9am. If I have more time, we’ll do a bit of tug or fetch, and then I can begin my work day. I find that Nami can nap more quickly when I let him go for his smell walk before I start my day.
I will do the same during my lunch break (weather permitting), and just let him walk or run and smell at the garden before resuming work for the rest of the afternoon.
If it’s raining or the weather is bad, we will run around the apartment hallways, or play fetch there to give Nami more space.
Enrichment activities and feeding
Another thing to keep dogs from getting bored at home is to do some enrichment activities with them.
- Practice commands before serving meals: we either practice old commands (usually), or I try to teach Nami something new (not very often).
- Feeding meals in puzzle toys or snuffle mats: I feed Nami’s meals through enrichment toys where he has to sniff to find his kibble/food. It’s easy to find them online, and there are options that don’t cost too much.
- DIY dog enrichment puzzles: recycled boxes and toilet rolls can be used for enrichment feeding. Just cover the treats in toys or paper, and let your pup sniff their way to their food. I make it super easy for Nami, otherwise he gives up very quickly and will just lie down in front of the box!
- I insert quick games of fetch or tug-of-war while taking short breaks in-between tasks to keep Nami entertained.
Encouraging solo play
Lunch is done, but Nami will still be eager to play. If I’m lucky he will doze off in the early afternoon, but by 3 or 4pm, he would want to go out (since we usually go to the park at the end of the day).
Unfortunately, I still have work to do and meetings to attend. I ignore Nami at times, even when he would bark to go out. Eventually he will nap when I am not playing with him, but there are a few things that I give him when I need him to play by himself:
- frozen snacks in kong toys: I freeze yogurt, fruits, and/or peanut butter in a few kong toys. It doesn’t keep him entertained for long, but it’s effective in keeping his attention for some time.
- tying a toy to a string that is tied to a table: Nami vs the table — he will pull the toy, which won’t budge because the toy is tied to the table, so I don’t have to play tug-of-war with him myself :P
- sniffing for treats in toys: whether its treats in toys or treats hidden around the house, it’s another method to keep pups like Nami active even when I can’t play with him.
- I let him run around the patio: the outside smells and sounds keep him curious, though sometimes he ends up barking at things I can’t see!
Every day is different. On some days Nami wants more attention than others. Some days are busier than others. There are occasions where I’m more exhausted than usual. And that’s okay. I just stay flexible when it comes to handling Nami, and if the need arises then I keep him in his crate for an hour so I can wrap up an important meeting.
I am lucky that I can work from home even outside of lockdown (and I bring Nami to the office when I go). Sometimes it can seem repetitive, but Nami is definitely easier to handle when he gets the right amount of activities. It’s easier to get work done when he gets tired or stimulated enough to take long naps in the morning and afternoon. The faster I finish work, the sooner we can get to the dog park at the end of the day.
I just remind myself that life’s easier when I do the above if I’m feeling lazy. :P